Archaeology & History
LIDAR reveals hidden secrets of Teotihuacan
By T.K. Randall
September 25, 2021 · 3 comments
Some of the city's surviving buildings. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Carlitos Alonso Caballero Vallejo
Traces of the ancient South American city can still be found in the roads and structures of modern Mexico.
Situated approximately 40 miles to the northeast of Mexico's capital, the ancient Mesoamerican city of Teotihuacan was home to around 1.25 million people at its peak between 1,500 and 2,000 years ago.
While today much of it has been built over by modern roads and buildings, the incredible feats of engineering achieved by its builders are still reflected in these structures many centuries later.
Such feats include the rerouting of rivers to match points of astronomical significance and the shifting of rocks and soil to change the alignment of the landscape and the buildings upon it.
Now a new research effort combining LIDAR aerial mapping technology, ground surveys and previously collected mapping data has helped to highlight hidden aspects of the ancient city's construction that are not only still around today, but that have also influenced the construction of modern structures in the region as well.
"We don't live in the past, but we live with the legacies of past actions," said anthropological archaeologist Nawa Sugiyama from the University of California, Riverside.
"In a monumental city like Teotihuacan, the consequences of those actions are still fresh on the landscape."
The findings from the scans and surveys found that 16.9 km of current waterways in the region had originated in the classical Teotihuacan landscape and that 65% of urban areas had structures built along the same alignments as those the ancient city's builders had obsessed over.
"The Teotihuacan Valley's unique environmental, cultural, and academic trajectories support a multi-scalar definition of humans as geomorphic agents," the researchers wrote.
Source: Science Alert
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